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Sometimes a verfe of this kind concludes a triplet, or three lines that rhyme together, where the fenfe is full and complete; as for example:

Millions of op'ning mouths to Fame belong,

And ev'ry mouth is furnish'd with a tongue,

And round with lift'ning ears-the flying plague is

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Here let us obferve by the way, that the fenfe ought always to be closed at the end of a triplet, and not continued to the next line; tho' inftances of this fault (if it be one) are to be found in fome of our best poets.

This verse of twelve fyllables (which is call'd Alexandrine, or Alexandrian, from a poem on the life of Alexander, written or tranflated into fuch verfe by fome French poets) is alfo frequently ufed at the conclufion of a ftanza in Lyric or Pindaric odes, of which we fhall fpeak hereafter. The pause, in these verses, ought to be at the fixth fyllable, as we fee in the foregoing examples.

In this place it cannot be amifs to obferve, that tho' the Alexandrine verfe, when rightly employ'd, has an agree. able effect in our poetry, it must be ufed fparingly, and with judgment. Mr. Pope has cenfured the improper ufe of it, and at the fame time given us a beautiful verfe of this kind, in his excellent Essay on Criticism, where, speaking of those who regard verfification only, he fays,

A needlefs Alexandrine ends the fong,

That, like a wounded fnake, drags its flow length along.

Verfes of fourteen fyllables are not fo often used as those of twelve; but they are likewife inferted in heroic poems, and are agreeable enough when they conclude a triplet where the fenfe is finifh'd, efpecially if the preceding verfe be of twelve fyllables; as in this of Mr. Dryden.

For thee the land in fragrant flow'rs is dreft;

For thee the ocean fmiles, and fmooths her wavy breast, And heav'n itself with more ferene and purer light is bleft.

If thefe verfes follow one of ten fyllables, the inequality of the measure renders them lefs pleafing; but this i

only in heroics; for in odes they are gracefully placed after verfes of any number of fyllables whatsoever.

The shorter kinds of verfes are chiefly used in operas, odes, and our common fongs; but they have nothing in them worth notice. We meet with them of three, four, five, and fix fyllables; but thofe of four and fix are most common, of which let the following fpecimen fuffice:

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It is now proper to fay fomething of the elifions or contractions that are admitted in our poetry, according as the measure requires.


Of the ELISIONS allowed of in ENGLISH POETRY; and fome mifcellaneous Remarks.

ELifion is the cutting off one or more letters, either from the beginning, ending, or middle of a word, whereby two fyllables are contracted into one, and are so pronounced.

In words of three or more syllables, which are accented on the last fave two, when the liquid r comes between two vowels, that which precedes the r is frequently cut off; as in temperance, difference, flatterer, victory, amorous, and others; which, though three fyllables, and often used as fuch in verse, may be contracted into two when the meafure requires it; and this contraction is denoted by a little mark called an apostrophe, the words being written or printed temp'rance, diff'rence, flatt'rer, vie'ry, am'rous, and pronounced accordingly. An elifion is made of both vowels before ther in lab'ring, endeav'ring, neighb'ring, and fuch like words.


Sometimes a vowel is cut off before the other liquids m, n, when found between two vowels in words accent

ed like the former; as in fab'lous, en'my, mar'ner, instead of fabulous, enemy, mariner: but this ought to be avoided, the found being harsh and ungrateful.

Contractions are agreeable enough in fome words of three fyllables, where the letters happens between two vowels, the latter of which is cut off; as in reas'ning, pris'ner, business, &c.

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The letter between // and w, in words of three fyllables, fuffers an elifion; as in follwer, bell'wing, &c.

When the vowel e falls between and n, and the accent lies upon the foregoing fyllable, it is frequently cut off, as in heav'n, fev'n, giv'n, driv'n, &c. The fame vowel is alfo cut off in the words pow'r, flow'r, and others of the like termination.

The words never, ever, over, may lofe the confonant v, and be thus contracted, ne'er, e'er, o'er.

Moft words ending in ed, which we contract in our common discourse, may also be contracted in poetry; as lov'd, threaten'd, exprefs'd, ador'd, abandon'd, &c.

Some words admit of an elifion of their first fyllable; as "mong, 'mongft, 'tween, 'twixt, 'gainft, 'bove, &c. are used inftead of among, among ft, between, betwixt, against, above.

Inftead of it is, it was, it were, it will, it would, we fometimes ufe 'tis, 'twas, 'tere, 'twill, 'twould. So like. wife by't, for by it; do't, for de it was't, for was it, &c. But thefe laft contractions are fcarce allowable, especially in heroic poetry.

Am may lofe its vowel after I; as I'm, for I am : and fo may are after we, you, they; as we're, you're, they're ; for we are, you are, they are: we alfo fometimes ufe the contraction, let's, for let us.

The word have fuffers an elifion of its two first letters, after I, you, we, they; as I've, you've, we've, they've, for I have, you have, we have, they have. So will and would are often contracted after the perfonal pronouns ; as I'll for I will, he'd for he would, &c. or after who, as who'd for avho would, who'll for who will, &c.

The particle to fometimes lofes its when it comes before a verb that begins with a vowel; as t'avoid, t'increase, tundo, &c. but this elifion is not fo allowable before nouns, and feldom ufed by correct writers.

When the particle the comes before a word that begins with a vowel or an h not afpirated, it generally lofes itse

as th' immortal, th' expreffive, th.amazing, th' honeft, &c. and fometimes before an afpirated when an e, follows it; as th' heroic, &c. but elifions of this laft kind are not to be commended.

Sometimes the o in who, and the y in by, is cut off before words beginning with a vowel; as wh' expose, for who expofe; b' oppreffion, for by oppreffion and other contractions of this kind are to be met with in fome of our poets; but fuch a liberty is by no means to be indulged.


The pronoun his fometimes lofes its first letters after words ending with a vowel; as to's, by's, for to his, by bis; and after feveral words that end with a confonant; as in's, for's, for in his, for his, &c. But this is rather to be obferved than imitated.

These are the elifions and contractions moft ufually made in our verfification; the reft may be learnt by reading our beft modern poets; for the liberties taken by fome of our antient ones are not to be encouraged..

There are a few more particulars relating to this fubject that are worth obferving. In the first place, it may be laid down as a general rule, that whenever one fyllable of a word ends with a vowel, and the next begins with another, these two fyllables in verfe are to be confidered as one only, except when either of the fyllables is the feat of the accent. Thus region, valiant, beauteous, mutual, and fuch like words, are to be reckon'd only as two fyllables in poetry; and fo ambition, familiar, perpetual, prefumptuous, Juperior, and other words of the fame nature, though confifting of four fyllables, are to be ufed in verfe as three.

The words diamond, diadem, violet, and a few others, may be excepted from this rule; which, though accented on the first vowel, are fometimes ufed but as two fyllables.

In general the ear is to be confulted; we must confider how words are pronounced in reading profe, and obferve how they are used by the best poets, and we fhall feldom fail either with refpect to juftnefs of meafure or propriety of contractions. It will very much add to the beauty of our verfe to avoid, as much as poffible, a concourse of clafhing vowels; that is, when one word ends with a vowel and the next begins with another, which occafions what is called an biatus, or gaping, and is very difagree

able to the ear. Mr. Pope has cenfured this fault, and given us an inftance of it in the following line:

Tho' oft the ear the open vowels tire.

For this reafon the e of the particle the is generally cut off (as has been obferved) before words that begin with a vowel.

It is not well to make ufe of feveral words in a verfe that begin with the fame letter, unless it be to fuit the found to the fubject. And obferve, that though verfes confifting wholly of monofyllables are not always to be condemned, (nay, poffibly may be very good) yet they ought to be feldom ufed, a feries of little low words having generally an ill effect in our poetry. Be careful alfo not to make use of expletives, that is, fuch words as contribute nothing to the fenfe, but are brought into the vei fe, merely to fill up the measure, Thefe two laft faults Mr. Pope has taken notice of, and exemplified in the following verfes:

While expletives their feeble aid do join,

And ten low words oft creep in one dull line.

Take care likewife not to end a verfe with an adjective, whofe fubftantive begins the next verfe; and the fame is to be observed with respect to a prepofition, and the words it governs. In fhort, avoid every thing that tends to deftroy that agreeable cadence and harmony which is required in poetry, and of which (after all the rules that can be laid down concerning it) the ear is the most proper judge. Remember, however, that eafy and flowing numbers are not all that is requifite in verfification; for, as the lastmention'd excellent poet obferves,

'Tis not enough no harfhnefs gives offence;

The found muft feem an echo to the fense.

We now proceed to the beauty of thought in poetry, and to give fome farther directions concerning the poetic ftyle.


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